Photo of Indian IT workers at Changi Business Park from TMG

According to his parliamentary speech on unfair hiring, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said that only 50 companies were penalized for prioritizing foreigners over Singaporeans. Minister Lim Swee Say claimed that more than 500 Employment Pass (EP) applications were withdrawn or rejected by these errant companies.

“These companies come from various industries like information and communication technology, and finance and insurance. We have not seen enough improvement after 6 months of engagement with them. We will continue to curtail their work pass privileges until they improve.”

However, the Minister then added that 250 companies are currently on the “watchlist” for prioritizing foreigners over Singaporeans.

Foreigners are preferred over Singaporeans in Singapore because citizens have national service reservist training, that disrupts employment up to 2 weeks every year for 10 years. Employers would also have to pay 20% CPF taxes of the monthly salary for hiring Singaporeans, giving foreigners an edge when it comes to hiring. The two major reasons are however left out by the Manpower Minister.

Singapore companies can circumvent the Manpower Ministry’s radar by “over-specifying” the job requirement of a particular job opening, and this tactic is usually used in the hiring of IT workers. Most job openings in Singapore do not hire fresh graduates or anyone without working experience – effectively cancelling out all Singaporean fresh grads or Singaporeans who wish to make a career switch. Foreigners from Philippines, India and China who have worked a number of years in their country can then fulfill the years, despite having these markets not equivalent and relevant to the Singapore market.

Unlike Australia, Singapore’s employment passes for professionals do not have go through accreditation from the local professional board. For example, an Indian national can claim he is an engineer without having going through accreditation from the Singapore Professional Engineer Board. As a result, places like Changi Business Park which has a concentration of IT companies became the second Little India of Singapore, also known as Chennai Business Park.

Singapore’s immigration policies have proven to be a failure as the decade of unbridled immigration caused birth rate to fall further to the world’s lowest. The economy stagnated as businesses become addicted to cheap foreign labour, and the government even admitted that there can be no more GDP growth without increase in manpower.